Hotel Montana Cerro Verde

Visit an Abandoned El Salvador Volcano Hotel

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The deserted grounds of Hotel de Montana Cerro Verde offer stunning views of the Izalco Volcano, and let you walk among the ghosts of El Salvador's high society in a 60s-chic setting.

Tale of an Untimely El Salvador Volcano

Cero Verde, El Salvador tourism Known as the “Lighthouse of the Pacific,” the active Izalco Volcano's glowing red lava had guided sailors for nearly 150 years before Salvadorans decided to capitalize on the natural spectacle. In the late 1950s, a swanky mountaintop retreat was constructed on an adjacent hill, fronted by a grand balcony that was supposed to give an eye-level view of Izalco's fiery display. But just before the hotel's grand opening, the volcano went dark, ending nearly 200 years of ceaseless eruption.

Jewel of Cerro Verde National Park

Despite a debut that lacked its much-touted main attraction, the hotel opened and operated for decades. A short drive from the capital of San Salvador, the 22-room getaway was frequented by the country's elite, who held extravagant weddings and rang in the New Years with style. It was the most-fashionable spot to stay in Cerro Verde National Park, home to the Izalco, Cerro Verde and Santa Ana Volcanoes. But the hotel sustained considerable damage in a 1986 earthquake, and operated at diminished capacity until it was shuttered in 1997.

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Though planned as a spot to see red-hot lava, Hotel de Montaña Cerro Verde's observation deck still offers a great cloud-level view of the inactive Izalco Volcano.

Explore Some Retro El Salvador Culture

Today, it's still possible to stroll through the gardens that wind around the grounds, rich with native plants, flowering bromeliads and tropical-mountain trees. You can peer into old guestrooms, vacant lounge areas and a forsaken restaurant. Though maintained by the national parks service, it's usually eerily empty during the week, with a few local families picnicking on the weekends.

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Walking under cover of the long corridors that crisscross the property you can almost feel the grandeur of days gone by. The pathways teem with plant life and are dotted by sculptures that reflect the indigenous Pipil civilization that once called the mountain home.

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The largest of the forsaken spaces is a banquet room at the hotel's front. Centered by three massive fire pits, it epitomizes the modernist style that dominated the progressive architecture of 1960s. The central space leads to the wide observation deck and sits atop a foundation of volcanic rock that was excavated from the area over half a century ago.

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